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Blow The Man Down

In which Stephanie refrains from making nary a “walk the plank” or Jack Sparrow joke while reviewing Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King.

Blow The Man Down

BOOK REPORT for Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

Cover Story: Arrrr-ight
BFF Charm: Caution!
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Thar She Blows
Bonus Factors: Pirates, Sirens
Anti-Bonus Factor: Psychological Torture
Relationship Status: Powder Monkey

Cover Story: Arrrr-ight

I'm not in love with this. I see what they were going for, but the cartoony vibe and the giant parchment splashed in blood just make it look too silly. I think an opportunity was missed to fashion the parchment in more of a sail shape to integrate it into the overall look.

The Deal:

As the heir-apparent of the infamous pirate king, Alosa is a big believer in the mantra of “if you want it done right, do it yourself.” So she stages an elaborate ruse to get herself kidnapped by a rival pirate family so she can search their ship at her leisure for one-third of a treasure map that supposedly leads to riches beyond measure.

The puny little cell Captain Draxen orders her to be held in is no match against Alosa’s tricks of the trade, but she may have met her match in Riden, the Captain’s younger brother and appointed interrogator, who can see through Alosa’s act as simple pirate princess. With time running out and the map nowhere to be found, Alosa must balance her late-night searches with her urge to show these amateur pirates what she can really do.

BFF Charm: Caution!

Alosa considers herself a serious badass pirate. She can be a bit (a lot) full of herself, but she also has dear old dad to thank for pushing her to her limits by starving her, chaining her up, making her fight men twice her size, and molding her into his pirate mini-me. So…she’s not totally wrong. But she can also slit a man’s throat without a second thought (and by her own boastful—and possibly trumped-up—admission, she’s killed hundreds of men), and I pump the friendship brakes hard in the face of murder.

If you’re going to be friends with Alosa, you need to have a really marketable skill that benefits her ship, and it’s also best if you’re a girl, since she rarely has any male crewmembers aboard her own vessel. I’m sure Alosa’s got her charms as a captain, but we’re probably better off as passing ships in the night.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Riden (Rye-den? Rid-en? This bothered me throughout the entire novel) is unlike any pirate Alosa has ever met, i.e., not a carousing, ale-soaked boor of a man, so she’s immediately intrigued and immediately disgusted with herself for feeling that way. For Riden’s part, he’s rarely come across any female pirate, much less one as self-assured, pretty, and quick-witted as Alosa, so naturally she catches his attention. Because they were playing at guard and prisoner and everyone had their own secret agendas, it was hard to become very invested in their (real? fake?) banter.

Talky Talk: Thar She Blows

Levenseller has created a new world for her pirates to roam in, though we don’t really learn much about it (and from what we do see, it feels very similar to ye old pirates of lore). It takes a while for the story to fully take hold, as the beginning and middle seem fairly repetitive: Alosa sneaks out to search the ship, gets frustrated she can’t find anything, Riden catches her and she is vaguely amused that a simple pirate such as he could even come close to besting her, rinse, repeat. By the time things really got rolling and Alosa was putting one plus one together, she’d lost some credibility in my eyes as this supposedly whip-smart woman overlooked a few very obvious plays.

The author also throws in a significant twist partway through, but the execution felt more clunky than genius.

Bonus Factor: Pirates

Yes, they are ocean-roving bands of murderous, thieving, ruthless reprobates, but they’ve got the wind in their sails, plenty ‘o gold, and a devious twinkle in their eyes. Fantastically idealistic portrayals of pirates, why can’t we quit you?

Bonus Factor: Sirens

Despite this being a fantasy world where one pirate king rules the ocean, there isn’t much magic involved, until we learn about the Sirens. Levenseller’s Sirens are beautiful and merciless creatures who drown their victims after they force them to mate. It’s their island of gold that everyone is trying to find, and something tells me that there’s going to be a whole host of trouble if and when they ever reach it.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Psychological Torture

The more we learn about the dreaded pirate king, the more he sounds like a supreme asshole. Alosa may think she’s been toughened up and had all the heart whipped out of her, but there’s some hints of classic victim/abuser Stockholm Syndrome and major trauma in her past.

Casting Call:

Young Lauren Ambrose as Alosa

Lauren has the fiery red hair and tough looks to pull off Alosa, and we know she’s easily able to cut someone with a dry remark from her stint on Six Feet Under.

Young Noah Wyle as Riden

I’m elbow-deep in the middle of an E.R. marathon right now, and when I read about Riden’s thoughtful brown eyes and earnest looks, my mind went to fresh-faced and adorbs Noah Wyle as newbie-with-a-heart-of-gold Dr. Carter.

Relationship Status: Powder Monkey

I don’t think we’re good enough friends to be your first mate, Book. I also don’t love you enough to do your dirty work, like swabbing the deck, but I’m sort of interested in seeing where you go next, so maybe I could be the person who hands the sextant to the navigator and keeps the maps in order?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Feiwel & Friends. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Daughter of the Pirate King is available 2/28/17.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.